Chapter

Crisis and Response

Paul A. Cohen

in Speaking to History

Published by University of California Press

Published in print March 2008 | ISBN: 9780520255791
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520942394 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520255791.003.0004
Crisis and Response

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In the People's Republic of China, numerous intellectuals, including some of China's most prominent literary figures, gave serious attention to the story of Goujian, beginning for the most part around 1960. The longtime minister of culture Mao Dun (1896–1981), who published a little book on the Goujian story in 1962 (it first appeared in article form in late 1961), asserted that from late 1960 through the spring of 1961 theaters and acting groups all over the country put on performances on the woxin changdan theme. One major factor that certainly played an important part in this upsurge of interest in the Goujian story was the tendency of many playwrights, in the aftermath of the Anti-Rightist Campaign of 1957 and 1958, to reach back into the past for thematic material. However, the shift toward historical drama resulted in an extended — and highly contentious — debate in theatrical and historical circles on the relationship between history and historical drama and the whole involved question of how the past could be made to serve the present.

Keywords: China; woxin changdan; Goujian; theaters; playwrights; Anti-Rightist Campaign; historical drama; history; intellectuals

Chapter.  17725 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Asian History

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